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The brainy boss

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The brainy boss

HRDC CEO talks knowledge meet the boss

Having been appointed as the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) CEO last June, Dr. Raphael Dingalo feels his organisation is perfectly placed to lead Botswana’s economy away from resource-based to the promised land of knowledge-based.

Speaking to Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON, Dr. Dingalo, an academic of note, outlines exactly what needs to be done to achieve this transformation.

Q. What exactly does your role entail?

As the CEO, I lead the development and monitoring of the implementation of HRDC’s strategic and operational plans and report periodically on progress and performance to the Board.

I also ensure that there are appropriate processes, systems, controls and operating mechanisms in place to promote effective and efficient delivery of internal and external services.

I also ensure close and smooth inter-department collaboration and teamwork.

Kindly share HRDC’s mandate with us.

HRDC plays a critical role in championing His Excellency the President’s transformation agenda which entails moving the country from mid to high-income status as anchored on the transformation from a resource to a knowledge-based economy.

Specifically, we are driven by the following objectives that make up the mandate of HRDC: We provide for policy advice on all matters of National Human Resource Development (NHRD); we co-ordinate and promote the implementation of the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS); we formulate human resource development plans for key sectors of the economy through linkages with employers, including as well formulating the National Human Resource Development Council.

Lastly we plan and advise on Tertiary Education Financing and Work – Place Learning.

Q. When you were appointed HRDC CEO, what were your priority areas?

My first priority was to enthuse staff to play a significant role in ensuring HRDC delivers on its mandate.

On every occasion I have to address staff members I make it known that I, as the CEO, do not lay claim to a monopoly of intellect and for this reason I am open to intellectually stimulating debate on how we can make HRDC a leading organisation, and an organisation worth identifying with.

I have opened my doors to all staff members to engage with myself and my team on whatever issue they believe can move our organisation forward.

I have also prioritised the use of ICT for improved service delivery.

In pursuit of utilising ICT for improved service delivery, I have developed the ICT Strategy and some of the projects under the strategy entail the Development of a Labour Market Information System, which monitors labour market patterns and trends affording us a system to stem out mismatch in Institutions output and the demand for labour.

I am also pursuing the development of an e-HRDF system, whereas levy payers will be applying for their reimbursement claims electronically thus improving on turnaround times for claims.

We are currently using Microsoft Project to monitor our projects and Executive Strategy Manager (ESM) by Palladium to monitor organisational performance.

Our Board meetings are paperless and in the next five-year Strategic Plan, I am planning on a paperless HRDC.

Q. How is HRDC positioning itself to contribute towards Botswana’s shift to a knowledge-based economy?

As HRDC, we have bought into the World Bank definition of a knowledge-based economy, being one that utilises knowledge to develop and sustain long-term economic growth, and the four pillars that make up such, being: Policies favourable to market transactions, open to free trade and foreign direct investment; Research centres, universities, think tanks, that create new knowledge; Communication, dissemination, and processing of information and technology; and Education, especially in the scientific and engineering fields.

HRDC has developed the National Human Resource Development Plan.

The Plan talks to Relevant Education and Skills for Employability and Entrepreneurship, including partnerships between ETPs and employers in the development and review of programmes; reskilling and retooling the current labour force as well as the provision of lifelong learning for the employed, and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme to nurture talent and potential at all levels of education and skills development system, including the workplace amongst others.

Q. Looking at the current developments, would you say the country is on the right track to becoming knowledge-based?

I believe the country is on track.

We need to understand that transformation does not happen overnight.

It is a planned activity and the development of the NHRDP and the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan shows that we are on track.

But of course, the devil is in the implementation.

Q. What more can be done to fast track this transformation?

What the country needs is radical economic transformation and pushing for Public-Private Partnerships.

We have massive land and land is an asset.

For example, Government can reduce its spending on BIUST by partnering or selling off BIUST to a reputable international university.

This will spare Government the huge sums from both development and recurrent that goes to BIUST for other critical interventions, mainly infrastructural development.

Government must pursue Privatisation with zeal and zest, including Air Transportation System, Civil Aviation etc.

Government’s contribution should only be as far as leasing land to Airport developers. We should, therefore, be ready to open our borders and appreciate the ‘foreign-born’ but at the same time ensuring that we target ‘real foreign-born investors’.

Q. Which sectors of the economy do you feel should be of top priority in achieving a knowledge-based econoy?

Transportation, mainly Air Transportation as an enabling sector, and the need to have an iconic international airport.

There is no high-income country that does not have an international airport as Aviation supports many other sectors.

Alexandre de Juniac CEO of IATA contends that Aviation Industry is growing at a rapid rate, in years to come they are going to have challenges to do with infrastructure, i.e. airports, hence the country should tap into this opportunity.

ICT, of course, is critical as there is a need to leverage on and prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

We should, therefore, ensure targeted FDI, including luring big ICT companies to set up shop in Botswana.

Manufacturing is also critical and the need to develop our leather industry through designing quality leather products, which can be exported.

Furthermore, there is also a need to capitalise on our diamond industry by maximising on the diamond value chain, which should also drive our manufacturing.

Creative and Performing Arts is one sector that can create jobs for many creative Batswana especially the youth.

All these are premised on a robust education and training sector.

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Battling for booze

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Battling for booze

Liquor industry wants alcohol sale ban lifted

Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) is lobbying for government to follow the example of neighbouring countries and lift the ban on alcohol sales.

Their main reasoning being that citizens who live close to the border may be tempted to sneak out of the country in their desperation to buy liquor. They note this would be detrimental to the economy as well posing a serious health hazard.

The Association Chairman, Mothusi Molokomme told Voice Money they believe the ban – in place since 27 March – should be lifted to allow the public to purchase alcohol and consume it at home.

As much as the main focus is for bottle stores and wholesalers to open for trade, Molokomme revealed they also want bars to be opened, noting they are the only centres of distribution in some of the country’s remoter areas.

He stressed that bars should be allowed to operate on a ‘takeaway’ basis but only after they satisfy Covid-19 prevention protocols.

“The main worry is that there will be loitering around the bars. But it is our belief that operators will strictly adhere to the regulations and allow for takeaways only,” stated Molokomme.

The Chairman pointed to the recent surge in homebrews as indication that the ban should be lifted.

During the period of lockdown, the police have recorded escalating cases of homebrews, which in some instances have even led to the loss of drinkers’ lives.

“There is also a regional factor because South Africa has announced it will be opening next week. Namibia is opening as well and Zambia has always remained opened and because of our porous borders, we may see the illegal coming in of liquor,” continued Molokomme.

He said areas located along the borders of these countries pose a threat to liquor contraband.

While the association advocates for the ban to be lifted, he says as the industry, they will also intensify their message for safer consumption and promote good behaviour among consumers to exercise precautionary measures.

“We are hoping that we will reach an agreement. It will be difficult to convince government when it comes to opening of bars, but we cannot sideline the bars because, in some areas they are the only available points of sale,” reiterated Molokomme, who doubles as the Managing Director of Distell Botswana.

The association was scheduled to meet with the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Peggy Serame this week to map a way forward regarding the sale of alcohol.

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Business

Crafting a new life

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Crafting a new life

The Enterprising Welder Me and My Business

Absorbed and happy in his work as a car mechanic, an unlikely request from a client three years ago changed the course of 35-year-old Bokamoso Selthabi’s life forever.

The self-taught welder now designs and makes various products from metal, including troughs, trailers, cages, kraal fences and other farm implements.

Having initially set-up shop in the North West of South Africa, his home of three years, the Morwa native retraced his steps back to Botswana to continue Bucha Rest Welding.

Recalling the meeting that altered his existence, Setlhabi told Voice Money he was working as a mechanic when a customer asked him to build a trailer for him.

“I made the product for him. After that he brought two more guys wanting my services. From there it grew into a fully-fledged business,” he explained.

“The business has now been running for two years based in South Africa. It is only at the beginning of this year that we relocated to Botswana,” continued the multi-talented craftsman, adding he briefly explored the Namibian market as well.

While he is still new to the local market, with much of that time blanketed by Covid-19 restrictions, Selthabi admits he is yet to reach a point where he can say business is as good as it was in South Africa.

“So far it has been a bit difficult locally. Some of the products that we do like metal kraals are still not highly rated here but we are working hard to market such products as a good alternative to wooden kraals,” he noted, a steely determination evident in his tone.

Setlhabi explained that one of the perceived disadvantages of products like metal kraals is because the metal conducts heat.

However, he points out that this can be overcome by simply applying paint.

“The good thing about it is that it is durable and lasts longer than other materials used to construct kraals,” he highlighted.

Despite the current low uptake of his products, the enterprising welder is optimistic his fortunes will soon turn around.

“It is promising because, when you work with customers who are not used to what you are doing, you have to carry out extensive marketing of your products. We hope when life goes back to normal after the pandemic there will be some improvement,” he said, adding that items such as feeding containers have proved popular and are in demand.

“We also have customers waiting across the country,” he added.

Other challenges – and the one Setlhabi describes as his biggest – is copycats who attempt to duplicate his work ‘but often fail to match my skills’.

“We have social media pages where we post our products. People would want to do exactly the same but often do not succeed because our designs are unique and the quality is top-notch,” said the National Craft Certificate (NCC) holder proudly.

As the business is still at infancy stage, he has engaged one person to assist but hopes as the enterprise grows he will be able to employ more.

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